UK board adopts rule changes to position campus for progress

LEXINGTON, Kentucky (April 26, 2024) The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees on Friday overwhelmingly gave initial approval to revisions to the institutions’ regulatory regulations as part of an effort to accelerate UK’s efforts to serve the state.

Our rules and regulations, our processes and procedures are important: not just because they tell people what to do or what not to do, but how they guide and empower an institution to perform and achieve its potential. The rules, as President Capilouto has said, should help, not hinder, our work, said Britt Brockman, Chair of the UK Board of Trustees. Frankly, we’ve found by examining what other institutions like us are doing and listening carefully to hundreds of community members, that too often our rules and governance structure hinder progress. We are an outlier. And now that we know we have the responsibility to make changes.

The council, in a vote of 19 to 1, initially approved on first reading the revisions to the Institutional Governance Regulations, the rules and the most important guiding principles for the institution. The board will now give a second reading and final approval at its June meeting, after a month of feedback from the campus’s shared governing bodies.

The proposed revisions that the board initially approved include significantly revised Governance Regulations that:

Clearly delineate the role of the board as the policy-making body of the university and the president as the institutional executive who implements policy direction in consultation with the campus community.

Reaffirm the primary role of faculty in educational practice (the curriculum) and the development and review of academic policies, as well as a strong statement of support for academic freedom as a core value.

Define a shared work governance structure for elected students, faculty and staff in closer alignment with what other institutions such as the UK have in place.

Lead a process of review and implementation of the Administrative Regulations, day-to-day management and operational policies that direct much of the institution’s work.

The proposed revisions were the culmination of months of feedback, led by President Eli Capilouto, who engaged in community conversations with more than 1,000 students, staff and faculty across campus.

From these conversations, Capilouto developed a set of principles that received several rounds of campus feedback. They included the idea of ​​ensuring that more voices, especially those of students and staff, could be included in decision-making on campus, as well as more faculty authority at the university and departmental level for curricular matters.

To ensure that these principles were put into place, Capilouto proposed the transition of the University Senate, which is already mainly made up of professors, to an all-professor body. Additionally, the existing Staff Senate and Student Government Association would have clearly established areas ranging from compensation to tuition, respectively, on which they would be consulted before making decisions.

Finally, a Council of Presidents would be established with an equal number of students, faculty and staff to consult with the chancellor on the most significant political issues facing the University, such as the budget and strategic plan, among others questions

These new shared governance approaches and structures are found in the revised Governance Regulations, which received initial approval from council on Friday.

The impetus for the proposals was a direction the Board of Trustees gave Capilouto in February to provide recommendations on changes to the rules and regulations of the institutions that will position the UK to accelerate its progress in the way it serves Kentucky.

In October, as part of its annual retreat, the board heard from economic, health and government leaders from across the state. Many commented on the impact of ongoing partnerships with UK, but all also indicated that they needed the university to do even more to move the state forward.

Called Project Accelerate, the board directed Capilouto and the campus community to:

  • Develop plans on how to increase enrollment, particularly in areas aligned with the state’s workforce needs;
  • Review the curriculum to ensure it is preparing students for careers;
  • Recommend ways to expand statewide partnerships as part of the universities’ service mission;
  • Develop initiatives to improve employee recruitment and retention efforts;
  • And to analyze the current external and internal regulatory climate and whether it was positioning the UK to accelerate its efforts and progress.

Five task forces were formed, from across campus, to address these issues. The regulatory climate task force, among other things, examined the rules and governance structures of more than two dozen universities.

The review concluded that the UK is an outlier in its governance structure and regulatory processes in a way that could inhibit the university’s ability to respond to the states’ priorities. Substantive reports and recommendations from more of the working groups are expected at the June board meeting.

Throughout my conversations with over a thousand community members, it’s become abundantly clear that we all care deeply about this community and how we achieve our goals. I believe this is the right time to make a sustainable change. I think we are the right community for this work, Capilouto said. And I also think that if we don’t do this now, we’re going to find ourselves back in this situation where we’re going to be asked to do more, but we’re not going to be able to do it because our rules and structure hold back progress and prevent innovation.

Change can be uncomfortable, which is why they are called growing pains. But if we want to fulfill our promise and our potential, we must be willing to evolve with the world around us.

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